67

You’ll watch me bottle up and explode

never thought I put a lid on it

but I smash my head on glass, thinking

here I go, here I go,

here I go again,

Like there are no streaks from muddy hands, or

shorelines from better times,

can’t you see it up and go?

I can’t see it, no.

Bottle up and explode,

eyes that seek like lightening,

looking inside just to try and run out,

scared of my cell walls,

can’t find my outside voice to say so.

Narrow as it goes, up the drunken bottle,

I see the seam, can’t take on me,

all I’ve tried is to kick and scream

I know, it’s all on me,

it’s all

it’s all

it’s all me.

62

Always, if I can
build up words and crumble
trip to fill these pauses
choke back a mumble
why’d I speak?

Retroactively armed
mounting defenses to nothing
think I’ll swallow this hard
this nothing is something

could have said it right
if I had some more time
could have put up a fight
if I knew I should try

I could narrate the lines
try to reframe those times
pretend I was so refined
take back what I implied

or I can climb back inside
build these silly designs
of what I have in mind
to go back and revise.

057

I can’t think anymore
you’ve finally taken me down
a cup tipped over,
stalled out on all roads,
full in all this space,
I cant,
there’s no room

I don’t bet on it, but
I bet you know this
I’m embroidered by this scar tissue,
the maps you left on me
leading me to empty streets

I know you left me first
I hear your plans from other people
bury you in my anger
I guess we ruined everything

I had my feet on the ground
so sure, had my arms to the wind
thought I was so free
but running brought no sheath
to the dagger that you leave

you’ve finally found your out
leave me responsible for myself
leave me cluttered and spent

I chase you in my dreams
a fractured sort of sleep
maybe we miss each other
even if we had to go,
maybe it’s never leaving
if I can’t let you go.

035

sheltering your mug from the cold
I could feel the chips in ceramic
the residue of you quitting
a memory lost to a dirty sink
did we ever even meet?

drink our coffee apart now
stale in your memory
I trace rings and see things
but mostly your car
in the parking lot

I think it was about the view,
or maybe the open-concept
so you could see through me
just by coming in the door
I’ve heard this before:
transparency kills the chase

but you liked my banter
and the freckle on my neck
you told me your stories
things I’ll never forget

I drink my coffee alone now
new tin in the cupboard, but I
can’t let go of your flavour
your mug not in my sink.

 

Stories From Growing Up: Throwing Punches At Sickness

Where is the proof? How does the brain change?

I waited an entire year before I told them about my diagnosis. In retrospect, I should have made the decision last much longer. I wanted to have some sense of what my life would be like, some sort of resolution before I could open the door.

Prove it to me, tell me about academics and science. I am not a daughter, but a translator and educator. Tell me as I cry about how I am hurting that you need to know if this is even a “real thing.” I suppose it’s easier for me to tell you than for you to politely explore it yourself.

I am only your daughter if we can call this a matter of being too sensitive and absolve ourselves of its name. If we can pretend that all my turbulence is no different from what other people go through– what if this is just how it is at your age? 

Pull your head out of your ass.

Funny that my reality is unfounded, but is strategically useful.

Are you sure you can handle this? The token response when I do something unfavourable. The voice that tries to say that it can see my sickness, but what it means is that I have done something they disagree with.

Did you take your medication? The thing you abhor, unless you can use it to paint me as irrational. If I am upset with you, it is only manufactured.

As it turns out, you don’t need to believe anything. You just need to know how to manipulate the people that do.

Stories From Growing Up: If I Could Go Back

“We were just having a conversation about what she would change if she could do this all over again.”

he looked at me in that calculating way, savouring the moment. Like there was a pleasure in delivering something that only served to cause pain. As if he felt there was righteousness in chipping at my self-worth, never letting me build it back up.

I was prepared. He got nothing from me because I knew the answer years before it came out of his mouth. I felt it before he ever put it into words.

“If she could change it…She wouldn’t have had you.”

I am a product of regret. I will never have to explain that feeling again.

030

Here comes that dropoff again,
an underwater ledge
I’m always prepared to swim
so I can get around to sinking

it’s just the way you scratch my back
and tangle my spine
and I’ll sit upright unable to speak
a holdout I will always lose

I catch my breath too slow, I know
can’t take your weaponized observations
choking on sips that feel like spite
throat closing on some cherried lies,
another monkey in the cage

I’m radical and unruly
the crazy and wild,
twisted to your spinning lies
the burden is not my mistake
but you’re here to load the weight

but I am fickle, a pending explosion
a timebomb, search and destroy
tear me so you can watch
disarm me so you can revel
in what you make of me

my stomach sinking into the sea,
I can see this is why you had me
bless, a human into a novelty,
innocence is paved in myth
when you could have asked
and you never did.

028

We’re tangled by our ribs, marrow weeping
if you could just put me down, I could cut the feeling
but when the air comes in and my lungs expand
there’s a little bit here that isn’t you

there are moments where the muscles don’t rip away
and I walk to figure out my pace
but ribs rubbing on ribs and
micro-tears, it’s enough
it’s enough and I want to give up

Could I have seen you coming,
the impact of our first collision?
the consequences of being naive,
when all I needed was to breathe

I’m just a vessel for dying cells
my inner arcade, collide and reload
you count down every coin
and I pray as my hands shake
for just a little more time

I was born with your voice in my head
you had me before I could be me,
before I had a light in me.

027

You were my first
thought I was going to be shockproof
until I was running away from you
tripping on my words, I
just couldn’t get it right

tricking my footing,
you were winding me up to fall
just so you could catch my arm
and I could thank you for the bruise

any tentative foot forward was a test
black ice patches to frozen leaves
when I move slowly it lets you know
I feel your tactics ready to go

It’s like being up high
from bears circling like sharks,
the illusion you afford me
I could be safe from the ground,
but reality catches me
preparing to fall down

all so I can thank you
for scattering my bones in the mud
lest another monster may need a sign
that I’m not worth the game.

Stories from Growing Up: Have you ever heard the silence?

We stood across each other at the kitchen counter. You were much better at averting eye contact than I was, a mastermind at holding ground in petty wars. I looked up at your face, searching for something beneath the hostility.

I looked for the right way to break the ice, wondering how you were doing or making a joke. There was no room for speaking.

Three months, this time. Three months of your silence to teach me a lesson, to teach me that you were right and I was not.

Three months of the door closed, the passwords changed, you staying up late so you could avoid us.

My mom used to tell us it was our job to fix it, to make things better for him. We were supposed to wave a white flag that was not ours, to let him know that this was okay and we didn’t have to talk about what happened.

I am confused about what sorry is for, if not a mechanism for smoothing things over.